Five Warped Tour Survival Tips for the Aged

Remember Warped Tour? Sure you do. Not all the details, probably — there’s a reason you never took mushrooms again. Still, it’s not hard to recall the basics: touring summer festival, celebration of “punk” and “skating” culture, outrageously young crowd. It’s a simple formula that has kept Warped chugging along for more than 20 years now. That’s longer than many of this year’s attendees have been alive. If you’ve got a ticket to this year’s edition at NRG Park, odds are that you’ve never known a world without Green Day’s Dookie.

That’s not to say that Warped Tour has absolutely nothing to offer people over 30. Now, to be sure, you’ve officially aged out of the festival’s target demo. Don’t expect to discover your new favorite band or fall in love at this thing, Gramps. The whole circus is designed to sell things to people much younger than you, a process that has been carefully refined for many years now.

But some of you have kids who are now Warped Tour age. Some of you don’t realize that you’re old yet. And some of you simply don’t give a shit. You like live music and you’re all-in for Warped Tour 2017, and God bless you for that. We’re right there with you. Just know that it’s a hell of a lot harder to live through this thing after your tattoos start to fade. It’s going to include a million bands you hate, for starters, and it’s going to last for what feels like ten weeks. It’s also going to be rather warm, assuming it isn’t pouring down rain.

That’s why the Press has put together this handy Warped Tour survival guide for our fellow olds. We need you to stay alive to share our posts and leave mean comments about them. So lather on the sunscreen, dig through the closet for that studded belt you kept, and if someone asks you if you like Beartooth, just say, “They’re okay, I guess.” Follow these tips and you’ll be fine.

click to enlarge TICKETMASTER

5. Understand That Metalcore Is the New Punk.

There’s really no use bitching about it. If you’re headed to Warped Tour ’17, you’re going to hear a whole lot of metalcore. What’s metalcore, you ask? Oh, boy. You’re in for a long day, Mom. Basically, metalcore fuses all the simplest parts of hardcore and heavy metal into a series of shout-along choruses and mosh-ready breakdowns. It’s a lot of screaming, syncopated guitar riffs and china cymbals, and the kids love it. A band called Memphis May Fire is going to end up as one of the most popular bands on the bill, and genre stalwarts Dance Gavin Dance and Silverstein are going to draw big crowds, too. There are a lot more where that came from. If you hate metalcore, do yourself a favor and stay home. If you aren’t sure what it is, ha-ha, yes. This is going to be fun.

4. See All of the Bands That Are Even Older Than You.
Warped Tour has always been pretty good about peppering its lineup with some choice legacy acts. (“Legacy acts” are what we call bands you like.) This year, there’ll be a pretty decent slate of oldsters up onstage, led by T.S.O.L., who I’m pretty sure are the only guys on this tour who have been playing since the ’70s. If you’ve never seen the dark, horror-punk legends before, why not do it in the blazing sun? You’ll also want to check out the Adolescents, who probably have grandkids that fit that description by now. Naturally, Anti-Flag will be back for their 90th Warped Tour as well, alongside fellow ’90s survivors CKY and Save Ferris. If you still have a soft spot for that 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack, you probably shouldn’t miss their set.

click to enlarge 2015 Vans Warped Tour in Houston, Texas. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
2015 Vans Warped Tour in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Marco Torres
3. Don’t Be a Creep.
It’d be silly to deny that half the fun of Warped Tour is checking out all the cute sk8r bois and grrls from high schools that you don’t go to. But you’re not in high school anymore. I don’t care how sick your Mohawk is or how carefully selected your collection of punk patches may be. Don’t hit on anyone who’s too young to spend a night in jail. Don’t “accidentally” press up against somebody a decade younger than you in the crowd and smell his or her hair. And do NOT cop a feel from a crowd-surfer, Dad. I don’t care if none of the ladies on there are rocking an undercut — take your urges to AshleyMadison.com.

click to enlarge 2015 Vans Warped Tour in Houston, Texas. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
2015 Vans Warped Tour in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Marco Torres
2. Realize You Will Cook Like an Egg on the Sidewalk.
Warped Tour falls on July 30 in Houston this year, which is sort of the sweaty chode between July and August. Assuming there’s no thunderstorm evacuation, it’s going to be hotter than you realized was possible. That means you’re going to have to take some very real steps to stay alive. Bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up often. Put on sunscreen before you arrive and slather on more throughout the day. We realize that snorting vodka is pretty punk, but it also dehydrates you. Be careful. Wear a hat, and find some shade in which to puke.

click to enlarge 2015 Vans Warped Tour in Houston, Texas. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
2015 Vans Warped Tour in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Marco Torres
1. Bring lots of money.
You’re old enough to be cynical, so don’t be surprised when you discover Warped Tour is essentially what amounts to a portable mall. There will be no end to the hip merch and tacky garbage people are trying to sell you. Everywhere will be free samples, signup forms, stickers and tattooed cuties encouraging you to buy, buy, buy. For an old, most of this stuff will be pretty useless to you, but take a bemused stroll through the marketplace anyway. (It’s kind of unavoidable — these people know what they’re doing.) If you want a “Fuck Trump” shirt or a plastic grinder with a liberty-spiked skull on it, prepare to pay dearly for it. Food and drinks aren’t going to be cheap, either. Fortunately, you’re old enough to have a career. Cash in that 401(k) and spend until you’re the king or queen of Warped Tour.

Warped Tour makes its annual stop in Houston on Sunday, July 30, at NRG Park. 9131 Main. Doors open at 11 a.m.
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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith